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The British Invasion of the Sixties in Pop Culture COME ON Introduction 4 Overview 8 Timeline 10 American influences 12


THE BANDS The Rolling Stones 34 The Dave Clark Five 44 Gerry and the Pacemakers 45 The Who 46 The Kinks 54 The Yardbirds 58 The Spencer Davis Group 62 The Blues Breakers 63 The Zombies 64 The Animals 65 The Hollies 66

Liverpool to Hamburg 14 ‘My Bonnie’ 20 Tony Sheridan 21 Pete Best 23


Living room rock 88 The animated ‘Beatles’ 90 Kiddie shows 92 Sitcom stars 93 ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ 94 ‘Rock and Roll Circus’ 95 British TV imports 96 Brits on American TV 97 David McCallum 98


THE INVASION The Small Faces 68 The Moody Blues 69 Herman’s Hermits 70 Pink Floyd 76 Hitmakers 78 The cusp of history 81

Mainstream magazines 100 Overseas fan magazines 102 American fan magazines 106 The fashion scene 110

SOLOS & DUOS Across the universe 24 ‘Meet the Beatles!’ 26 Ringo Starr 30 The floodgates open 33

Singular sensations 82 Petula Clark 83 Chad and Jeremy 84 Peter and Gordon 86

Insets: Quarrymen and newsreel image © current copyright holders; Rolling Stones publicity photo; Beatles cartoon © King Features Syndicate; Rave magazine cover detail © George Newnes Ltd.



MOVIES A lens on the phenom 152 ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ 154 ‘Help!’ 157 ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ 158 ‘Having a Wild Weekend’ 159 ‘Hold On!’ 160 ‘Mrs. Brown’ 161 ‘The Ghost Goes Gear’ 162

Rock and droll 112 Mad about the boys 114 Sick, Help! and Cracked 117

COMIC BOOKS Written & designed by: Mark Voger Publisher: John Morrow Proofreader: Scott Peters

New kind of comic hero 120 ‘Official’ Beatles comics 122 Romance comics 124 In the Archie Universe 126 In the DC Universe 128 In the Marvel Universe 133


‘Blow-Up’ 163 ‘Yellow Submarine’ 164 ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ 165 ‘Let It Be’ 166 ‘Gimme Shelter’ 167 Pop stars as pop stars 168 More British genres 169

HERE, THERE Shea Stadium 170 Beatles vs. the Stones 171 Swinging London 172 Grooviness seeps in 174 ‘Paul is dead’ 175


Musical merch 136 Band-emblazoned buttons 139 Ditty-playing dolls 140 Edible ephemera 146 Model kit krazy 148 Print mint 150

And in the end 176 George Harrison, solo artist 178 Paul McCartney and Wings 179 ‘Exile on Main St.’ 180 Dec. 8, 1980 181 Gone before their time 185 A long road (literally) 186

LET IT BE Epilogue 188 Acknowledgments 190 Index 191

Front cover: Modeling With Millie #54 cover boy by Ogden Whitney and John Romita (1967) © Marvel Comics Inc.; Rolling Stones button and Herman’s Hermits ad © current copyright holders; “Downtown” album cover (1965) © Warner Bros. Records; John Lennon mask © SELTAEB & © Ben Cooper, courtesy Heritage Auctions; Dave Clark doll © Remco, photo by Michael DiMaria Frontispiece: “Both Sides of Herman’s Hermits” (1966) cover by Frank Frazetta © MGM Records Back cover: Model kit art by Bill Campbell (1965) © Revell; “Hold On!” poster detail (1965) © MGM; Ringo button © current copyright holder; “The Beatles” cartoon (1965) © King Features Syndicate; “Ferry Cross the Mersey” poster detail (1964) © United Artists; Paul McCartney doll (1964) © SELTAEB & © Remco; Hofner bass from 1963 publicity photo; Summer Love #46 cover detail (1965) © Charlton Comics Group

For Bobbi and Mary, fighting the good fight “Britmania: The British Invasion of the Sixties in Pop Culture” © 2022 Mark Voger ISBN-13: 978-1-60549-115-8 First printing, October 2022 Printed in China All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from Mark Voger, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. Address inquiries to Mark Voger c/o: TwoMorrows Publishing. Photos credited to Kathy Voglesong © the estate of Kathy Voglesong

Published by: TwoMorrows Publishing 10407 Bedfordtown Drive Raleigh, North Carolina 27614

Insets: Mad’s “Blecch” Ringo © Warner Bros.; Millie the Model #41 cover detail © Marvel Comics; George Harrison doll © SELTAEB and © Remco; “A Hard Day’s Night” © United Artists




Not many 5-year-olds were aware of the Beatles in early 1964. I was no exception. “The Flintstones” were the only rockers I knew. So the Beatles’ historic first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964, would have been something I learned about later in life — and thought, “Gee, I wish I had seen that” — if not for a moment of real, live Beatlemania that magically transpired in my family’s living room. It was a cold Sunday evening in Woodcrest, a largely Jewish, largely middle-class neighborhood in Camden County in South Jersey. (We were the rare Irish-Catholic household.) I was in my pajamas, most likely watching “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” on our black-and-white TV set, when my mother received a frantic call from our family babysitter, Debbie, who lived in the house directly behind ours. Debbie pleaded with my mom to allow her and two friends to come over to watch “The Ed Sullivan Show.” (The way I remembered it, Debbie’s family’s television had suddenly gone on the blink, just as she and her girlfriends were settled in to experience the Fab Four.) As Debbie’s tone of voice made this sound like a matter of life and death, my mom immediately agreed. So there I was in my pajamas in my living room watching three girls screaming — I mean screaming — at the television! I had no clue what was going on. But I am very grateful it happened that way, because I witnessed the dawn of Beatlemania with my own 5-year-old eyes in my own living room. Forty years or so later, I attended the funeral service for Mr. McDermott, Debbie’s father. I reminded Debbie of that night long ago when her family’s TV set went on the fritz, but Debbie corrected me. The television was fine, she said, but her father — a dedicated and unapologetic sports fan — wasn’t about to change the channel in the middle of a game he was watching. If he had, I would have surely finished watching “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” instead of witnessing a live broadcast of the Beatles’ first-ever performance in America. So to you, Mr. McDermott, I say: Thanks a million. OVERNIGHT, THE BEATLES WERE ON EVERYONE’S lips. Broadcasters, newspaper columnists, comedians and sometimes even clergy all chimed in. The response was unanimously condescending — that is, unless a given commentator was 24 or younger. But in those days, print and broadcast media were (surprise!) very much an older White males’ club. I recollect that in the Feb. 10, 1964, edition of The Philadelphia Bulletin — this was the day after the “Sullivan” appearance — a staff columnist ended his piece with the following (and I paraphrase): “I will stick my neck out and predict that in 10 years or so, we’ll be asking, ‘Whatever became of the Beatles?’ ” I wish I still had that clipping so I could name (shame?) the offender.


The album that kept us kiddies up at night.

© Capitol Records

I did, however, come across a clipping from the front page of the same edition of The Bulletin, as well as the “jump” page. In a United Press International (UPI) wire story titled “Beatles Send Teen-Agers Into Ecstasy,” it is reported: “The four are John Lennon, 23, the so-called ‘Sexy Beatle,’ George Harrison, 21, the ‘Quiet Beatle,’ Paul McCartney, 21, the ‘Bouncy Beatle,’ and Ringo Starr, 23, the ‘Beatle Beatle.’ ” (Whatever that means.) Accompanying the UPI article was a staff report titled “British Quartet A Real Menace, Barbers Assert.” The uncredited writer reported that John J. Monachelli, then president of the Pennsylvania League of Master Barbers, “wasn’t even sure the Beatles — with their collar-length hair in the back and eyebrowlength bangs — should have been let into the country without being sprayed first. ‘You know,’ he said. ‘Like they do to sheep.’ ” This Beatle-bashing from the older generation was not limited to the media. It was happening everywhere, and my neck of the woods was no exception. Local adults in Woodcrest scoffed at the Beatles. But in telling ways, the grownups would acknowledge, albeit grudgingly, the group’s appeal. Everyone admitted the Beatles were “cute.” Some admitted they were funny. Some even admitted that their songs were (gasp!) catchy.

MY FOLKS USED TO THROW BOOZY parties on a Saturday night. My sister, brother and I have deeply ingrained memories of lying in bed at night trying to fall asleep, while downstairs, a noisy party raged. This drunken thrum was the soundtrack of our childhood. As the invited crowd grew louder and laughier, the turntable kept pace. (Two records I remember my father playing are “Java” by Al Hirt and “Lester Lanin Goes to College,” just to clue you in on the level of hipness here.) At some point around 1965 or so, when I was in the first grade, we kiddies heard something mighty strange coming up through the floorboards during one of my folks’ boozy parties. Somebody had thrown on a Beatles album. What? How? It was an entire album side of Beatles, one song after another. The reaction of the well-oiled crowd was, at first, uproarious laughter. (I’m guessing Mr. Jacobs jumped up on a table and played air guitar, in mockery of the Fab Four.) But with each passing song, a more sincere response coalesced. Against all logic, the adults were beginning to have straight-up fun with the music. They were dancing. We could tell. Few sounds are more distinct than stout ladies in overtaxed heels stomping on a linoleum tiled floor. From that evening on, Beatles music became an entrenched part of the ritual during the boozy parties my parents threw. Late into a given night, when everyone was good and drunk, the needle was dropped on the Beatles album ... and the crowd went nuts. Speaking of Mr. Jacobs, he mocked the Beatles in another memorable way. Back during the first flush of pervasive Beatlemania, fake hairpieces called “Beatle wigs” were marketed. (Ed Sullivan famously posed for photographers wearing one.) Mr. Jacobs purchased such a wig. He was kind of a squat guy, and kind of a joker. He put on a suit and the wig and, strumming a toy guitar, made like the Beatles as Mrs. Jacobs filmed him. The Jacobses brought over their little 8mm masterpiece to show on our projector. Problem was, the movie was four minutes long, with no other gags or props or any sort of “finish” — just four minutes of Mr. Jacobs acting like the Beatles. It was hilarious for the first 30 seconds. I EVENTUALLY SPOTTED THAT BEATLES album in my parents’ record collection. It was “Something New,” a 1965 compilation, as opposed to a proper album of all new material. (When the question “What’s your favorite Beatles album?” comes up, the answer is typically “Meet the Beatles!” or “Rubber Soul” or “Sgt. Pepper.” No one ever says, “I can’t get enough of ‘Something New.’ ”) “Something New” closes with “Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand,” the German-language version of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” (Give it a listen — it’s positively joyful, not to mention culturebridging.) To this day, when I hear it, I’m back in pajamas in the top bunk, wondering what the hell’s going on. A lifetime later, I asked my mother why, why, why there was a Beatles album in their collection. She explained that one Saturday night, my parents had invited to their party a younger couple who were new to the neighborhood. These two poor, unsuspecting

Breaking news from the front page of the Feb. 10, 1964, edition of The Philadelphia Bulletin. © The Philadelphia Bulletin young’uns materialized, bringing along their copy of “Something New” (presumably to spice things up for the oldsters), but forgot it upon exiting the party. This couple, it turns out, never again attended one of my folks’ boozy parties — it wasn’t their generation, after all — nor did they even return to reclaim the album. The result: They may have lost a Beatles album, but they made Woodcrest a lot more hip.



Liverpool to Hamburg Does it need to be said? The Beatles were born at the moment John Lennon and Paul McCartney first laid eyes on one another. This occurred on July 6, 1957, a Saturday, at an event put on by St. Peter’s Church in Liverpool. From this humble first encounter, the Beatles saga would take many twists and turns: personnel shifts, band name changes, poverty, petty theft, encounters with strippers, “uppers”-fueled marathons, jail time, deportations, death, a lot of laughs and, of course, a lot of great music. It all had to happen before the world would be conquered by, all together now, “four lads from Liverpool.” Lennon (born 1940 in Liverpool) was the leader of the Quarrymen, a skiffle group that performed at St. Peter’s social that fateful day. Formed the previous year as the Black Jacks — even in this embryonic stage, name changes happened — the Quarrymen were made up of school chums from Lennon’s alma mater, Quarry Bank High School for Boys. McCartney (born 1942 in Liverpool) grew up in a musical family. His father was a trumpeter; there was a piano in the house. On the recommendation of a mutual friend, McCartney saw the Quarrymen. He had musical ambitions of his own. Lennon recalled that the Quarrymen did Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-a-Lula” on that day. McCartney recalled them doing the Del-Vikings’ doo-wop hit “Come Go With Me” (and goofing up the lyrics). The boys struck up a conversation about (what else?) rock ’n’ roll. Lennon was impressed that McCartney could sing and play Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock.” Not long after that initial meeting, he invited McCartney to join the Quarrymen.

John Lennon, then 16, fronting the Quarrymen in Liverpool on July 6, 1957. © Current copyright holder


The next February, McCartney recommended a school chum of his, George Harrison (born 1943 in Liverpool). McCartney pointed to Harrison’s ability to play Bill Justis’ instrumental “Raunchy” note-for-note. Harrison demonstrated same, and Lennon invited him to join also. Just like that, three-quarters of the Beatles were in place. THE FIRST-EVER JOB THAT THE BEATLES’ first-ever manager hired them for wasn’t exactly a path to superstardom. Lancashire native Allan Williams (1930-2016) was a promoter and cafe proprietor in Liverpool who was instrumental in bringing the Beatles to Hamburg: He booked them, drove them there in his van, and fed them along the way. This became the make-or-break period that made the Beatles. “At first I didn’t know they had a group,” Williams told me in 2003. “I had a coffee bar, the Jacaranda, which was situated, oh, about 100 yards from the unemployment exchange. And all the groups didn’t like working, because it interfered with their rehearsing. The groups would come to the Jacaranda after they received their ‘dole’ money (unemployment benefit). It was known as ‘rockin’ dole’ in those days,” Williams laughed. “I used to let them rehearse in the basement, because the basement wasn’t used until night.” This is where the Beatles, which then included Lennon’s friend Stuart Sutcliffe (born 1940 in Edinburgh) came in. Recalled Williams: “Unknown to me, the Beatles — who I just knew from the art school, which was also about five minutes away — they used to miss their lectures and hang around the Jacaranda, listening to the groups like Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Big Three and like that, all big names in Liverpool in those days. Well, I had a problem with the graffiti, you know, in the ladies’ toilet (restroom) upstairs.

Tony Sheridan “My Bonnie” began as a joke.

That was Tony Sheridan’s recollection of his historic recording session with the Beatles — plus the fact that it was done on very little sleep. “Getting up at 7 in the morning when you go to bed at 5 is not easy, as you would appreciate,” the singer told me in 2003. “And being sort of picked up and taken off. (In mock German accent) ‘OK! Get up!’ In Germany, things are German. You must appreciate that, too. ‘Get up, boyz! We’re going to the studio!’ And so we went to the studio. “And then, very quickly, we had to decide, with (producer) Bert Kaempfert’s assistance, what songs we were going to record. Of course, we had a big repertoire by this time. Bert was saying to us, ‘Well, you’ve got to please the Germans. You’ve got to do a bit of this, a bit of that.’ We thought, ‘We’ll come up with something approaching an LP, but first, we’ll do a single.’ “He asked us, ‘What do you know that the Germans know?’ We said, half-jokingly, ‘What about “My Bonnie?” ’ And he said, ‘Yes! Yes! What does it sound like?’ What we did was a very different sort of version. We did it in two takes. “So it was a joke. But some jokes have a life of their own sometimes, so it became a living thing. It became a single. It sort of got the Beatles off the ground in a roundabout way, as well.” How was it that Sheridan and the Beatles nailed “My Bonnie” (a song they hadn’t planned to record) in two takes? He explained: “These sessions were more or less a case of jumping off the stage, getting into the so-called studio, which was in a school hall, and doing the same thing again that you’d done onstage. We were very well versed in what we were doing in those days. We didn’t make mistakes. We improvised solos, but there are still hardly any mistakes in an improvised solo. “The version that came out was the second take. It was good enough for Bert Kaempfert, so it was good enough for us. We thought, ‘Well, if we please him, on the next one we can please ourselves.’ But we never had a chance to do a next one. If we had done 10 versions of ‘My Bonnie,’ they would have all sounded very different.” Sheridan was asked how he and the Beatles responded to one another when they first met up in Hamburg. “It confused them completely,” he said. “Because up ’til that time, they thought they were the only ones who were doing it (playing music) this way. We were like-minded at the time. “I never would have got together with the Beatles if they’d have been a s*** band. They wouldn’t have got together with me, had they not admired something about what I was doing.” The singer admitted that the Beatles had one thing over him: “They had a little bit more ambition. They went back (to England) and they made it, and I stayed in Germany and sort of made it in my way. But I was satisfied. I’ve always been a low-key person. I’ve had the best of both worlds.”

“We did it in two takes,” said singer Tony Sheridan, shown in 2003. Photo by Kathy Voglesong

Pete Best It’s a heartbreaking moment in the history of rock ’n’roll.

Pete Best played drums during the Beatles’ formative first two years, through the legendary Hamburg gigs, right up to their first recording session with producer George Martin, only to get sacked just before John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and their new drummer, Ringo Starr, rocketed to superstardom. In a 2001 interview, Best gamely fielded the question he’d contemplated for most of his life: What led to that fateful day when Beatles manager Brian Epstein fired him? “It came without any forewarning,” the drummer said. “I was called in on that particular day — I think it was August 15th or 16th of ’62 — totally unaware of what was going to happen. You know, we’d recorded. We were going to go back to put the finishing touches to ‘Love Me Do.’ We had the contract with EMI. Everything was lookin’ rosy, ’til 15 minutes with Brian Epstein, and Brian basically said, ‘Pete, you’re no longer in. The boys want you out, and Ringo’s in.’ “I suppose, puttin’ it in a cliché, it was like a bombshell. Or, as we say in Liverpool, ‘gob-smacked.’ Right? “And it did upset me, to be quite honest. And it did cause me a lot of heartache, a lot of financial embarrassment. Because very soon after that, as the world knows now, ‘Love Me Do’ went into the charts, and — pshffft! — the phenomenon was started. “But what you’ve got to do is knuckle down and turn ’round and say, ‘OK, life’s not over.’ You still believe in yourself. You still believe in your own abilities and your own talents. I joined another band. It was a case of trying to prove to people that the reason which they gave wasn’t the real reason. “But it became very, very evident that no matter how fast I chased ’em with a good band — right? — they were streets ahead of me,” Best added with a laugh. “I mean, they were moving so fast. It was like they were on a Japanese ‘bullet’ train, and I was on the No. 10 tram in Liverpool.” Four decades later came a gesture from the Beatles that went a long way toward mending their relationship with Best. The drummer was awarded royalties for older tracks he’d played on (including that first take of “Love Me Do”) on the Beatles’ “Anthology I” album of 1995. “It was something I’d never expected,” Best said of the royalty payments. “OK, who would expect something after 40 years? And of course, you’ve established your own lifestyle, you’ve achieved your own pinnacles, and you’re quite happy with what you’ve achieved in life and the way you’ve built your family up and the security you’ve got for them, and striving to keep yourself in that position where you can hold your head up high. “But, yes, it has basically set up a nice, secure base for my family for years to come.”

“LIfe’s not over,” said Pete Best, shown in 2001. Photo by Kathy Voglesong


Across the universe A new drummer, a new manager, a new record contract, a new look. But a rocky start preceded the Beatles’ ascent to pop stardom.

Producer George Martin, who would shepherd the Beatles through 22 singles and 13 albums, recalled that his first meeting with their newly minted manager, Brian Epstein, was something of a last-ditch effort for the band. “In January of 1962, Brian Epstein was, by then, quite wary of interviewing record company executives; he’d been to all of them,” said Martin (during a 1999 lecture in Red Bank, NJ, which I attended). “By then, the Beatles were a joke in the business. Even our own company (EMI) had given the thumbs down to this group. No one would touch them. I didn’t know that. When my name was given to Brian Epstein, he knew he had hit rock bottom. “I immediately liked the four boys — not for their music, but for their wacky sense of humor. They were four young men desperate for someone to recognize their talent. George was 19. “The Beatles actually confirmed what I already knew about going out on a limb. They never disappointed me with a song. Each song that came off the line was a gem. They never rehashed; they never gave me ‘Star Wars II.’ They were never content with what they could see; they were always looking beyond the horizon. It was damned exhausting. But it was invigorating, too.” Epstein, who was fastidious about his own appearance, oversaw the band’s new look. (Goodbye, leather; hello, matching suits.) Their Hamburg days behind them, the Beatles continued to hone their craft at Liverpool’s Cavern Club as they embarked on their recording career. The rockiness came in during their earliest Cavern gig with newly installed drummer Ringo Starr. “The first gig in the Cavern after I’d joined was pretty violent,” Starr said in the 1995 “Anthology” TV documentary. “There was a lot of fighting and shouting. Half of them hated me, half of them loved me. George got a black eye.” SINGER-GUITARIST TERRY SYLVESTER was playing the Cavern during this period with his band, the Escorts. “It was very tightly packed,” Sylvester said of the venue when we spoke in 2005. “Hard to explain. Very small place. Very frightening place. There was only one entrance and exit: the front door. There was no back door. You’d go to the


dressing room — you had to carry your amps through the crowd. “It wasn’t a licensed venue; in other words, you couldn’t get alcohol. Your best chance was a Coca-Cola and a hot dog. It was more like a youth club, a very small youth club. You’d see the same people all the time. They dressed a little bit differently down there than they did elsewhere in the country.” Sylvester confirmed the prevailing wisdom that the bustling music scene in Liverpool stemmed from its status as a port city. “Liverpool was kind of unique,” he said. “There’s many reasons why. The Cunard ships used to leave Liverpool and go to New York. In Liverpool — and the Cavern Club in particular — a DJ called Bob Wooler was playin’ records that weren’t gettin’ played anywhere else in the U.K. There were records by, for instance, the Shirelles. They weren’t gettin’ played on the BBC at the time, but were gettin’ played in Liverpool at the Cavern Club. “All the Liverpool groups used to hear these songs, and we’d just go, ‘I want that song!’ We’d borrow records off of Bob Wooler to take home and rehearse. I mean, I love Cliff Richard, but he would do one type of thing. But the Beatles were doin’ Larry Williams’ ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy,’ Chan Romero’s ‘Hippy Hippy Shake.’ There was a definite scene happenin’ there that was happenin’ nowhere else.” THE BEATLES WERE CLIMBING THE charts in England in 1962 and ’63 with “Love Me Do” (#17), “Please Please Me” (#2) and “From Me to You” (#1). New York-based promoter Sid Bernstein, a self-described Anglophile, took notice. “As a soldier in World War II, I spent a lot of time in England before we went into Germany and other lousy places,” Bernstein told me in 2001. “I got so involved with English people, the English countryside and the English press and newspapers, that I carried that habit on long after I left the Army. I loved reading about what was going on in England, so I’d pick up one or two English newspapers almost every week, OK?

A Liverpool institution: The Cavern Club.

Ringo Starr

“I was in the greatest show on Earth — for what it was worth,” goes a lyric written by John Lennon and sung by Ringo Starr. The song is “I am the Greatest” (from the 1973 album “Ringo”), in which Starr reprises his Billy Shears character from the Beatles’ 1967 masterpiece, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Starr was one quarter of the Beatles, arguably the most influential band in rock, if not music itself. I interviewed the drummer by telephone in 2001 and 2008. He also answered my questions during press conferences held in New York City in 1999, 2000 and 2003. Q: In the book “The Beatles Anthology” (2000), you said the Beatles were “just a group of scruffs” when you first saw them. STARR: Even though I said that in the book, they were the band that I would go and watch. You know, I still loved them as a band, but we were the big shots, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. It was in Liverpool, and they were rehearsin’ in the back of a coffee bar (the Jacaranda), and we were off to go to Butlin’s (a resort played by the Hurricanes) to be professionals. Q: John asked you to shave your beard and get a haircut when you joined. Were you insulted? STARR: No. Because they all had this — now, it’s called the “Beatle cut,” of course, which a guy in Germany (Jürgen Vollmer) did for them. That was just one of John’s lines, you know. I mean, nothing would have happened if I’d have kept the beard. I would still be in the band (laughs). Q: What do you remember about first touching down in America on Feb. 7, 1964? STARR: It’s probably one of the many exciting moments I’ve had in my life. To come to America as a musician from England and get that reception was incredible. And that our records were sellin’ in America by then — because, we had two that didn’t sell (laughs). It’s just still one of the incredible memories for me. I even felt New York while I was on the plane flyin’ into it. I felt it even from the plane — the engines. Q: What did the four of you think might happen once you landed? STARR: Well, we were hopeful, that’s all. You know, George had gone to America on holiday, and kept goin’ into the record stores askin’ for our record, and nobody had heard of us. So we didn’t know what to expect. But as soon as we got off the plane, everything was OK (laughs). And then to get that reception (at the Plaza Hotel) that we knew nothin’ about, it was just brilliant.


And then, besides the kids outside waitin’, just the thrill of bein’ in the hotel and havin’ all these TVs on and radios — you know, the media madness that was goin’ on. We could actually talk to the radio stations and hear ourselves on radio. We were just from England; it’s a bit different over there. So it was exciting. Q: When you filmed “A Hard Day’s Night,” it’s amazing how four amateur actors communicated so well on the screen. Were you surprised at your own success, the four of you? STARR: No. We were four clowns, really, who play instruments. Q: “A Little Help From My Friends” became like a theme song for you. What do you recall of recording the vocal track (in 1967)? STARR: The only difference of opinion we had: The original line said, “What would you do if I sang out of tune / would you throw a tomato at me?” I said, “I’m not gonna sing that.” Because we’d just been bombarded with all those jelly beans on tour, so I was not going to sing that. Q: For (the 1970 film) “Let It Be,” how did the four of you agree to play on the roof? STARR: Well, it was an idea we had around that time. You know, first of all, we were gonna play in a volcano in Hawaii and places like that. In the end, the Beatles always took the easy route. So we said, “Oh, let’s go on the roof!” Q: In the “Anthology” docuseries, it almost seemed like you, Paul and George were burying the hatchet before our eyes. STARR: Well, what hatchet was that, you know what I’m sayin’? I mean, you know, we’re all together; we’re doin’ that; we’re gettin’ on; and we finished filming; and we all went home. Q: Have you and Paul grown closer since George’s (2001) death? STARR: We’re just still old pals, you know? We’re not hangin’ out with each other any more than we did. We’re not phonin’ each other any more often. If we’re in the same city, we’ll hook up. Q: You’ve toured all your life. Do you still get a buzz from it? STARR: The gig, playin’ the show, is the best part for musicians. Gettin’ there is boring. You gotta get on the bus, the plane, the train, whatever it is. If they had a transporter — if it was actually “Star Trek” — it would make life a lot easier.

“We were four clowns, really, who play instruments,” said Ringo Starr, shown in 2003. Photo by Kathy Voglesong


The Rolling Stones

The wisdom then and now is that the Beatles wore the white hats, and the Stones wore the black hats. This has served the Stones well. In 1963, when David Bowie was 16, he went to see a Little Richard show in England. Opening were the Rolling Stones. “They weren’t very well known,” Bowie told TV host Michael Parkinson in 2002. “There’s about six kids rushed to the front. You know, that was their fan base at the time. Everybody was there for Little Richard. And it was priceless; I’d never seen anything so rebellious in my life. Some guy yells out, ‘Get yer hair cut!’ And Mick (Jagger) says — and I’ll never forget these words — ‘Wot, an’ look like yew?’ “I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is the future of music!’ ” THE STONES FORMED IN LONDON IN 1962. The founding lineup is rock history itself: singer Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards (both born 1943 in Darford); guitarist Brian Jones (1942-1969, born in Cheltenham); bassist Bill Wyman (born 1936 in Lewisham); and drummer Charlie Watts (1941-2021, born in London). From 1964 through ’69, the group scored 18 Top 40 hits, including the #1s “Satisfaction,” “Get Off of My Cloud,” “Paint It Black,” “Ruby Tuesday” and “Honky Tonk Women.” The Rolling Stones continued placing singles in the Top 40 through 1989. But chart success was not the point. Considering their well-reported misadventures (drug busts, affairs, infighting) and the sharp lyrical themes of their music (“I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag” somehow springs to mind), the Stones were as much a lifestyle as a band. Most significant is the group’s track record as a live act. For more than a half-century, the Rolling Stones filled stadiums.

Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger in 1966 with a spiffy jacket and an up-to-the-minute microphone. 34

MICHAEL PHILIP JAGGER, ACCOUNTANT: THAT seemed to be the path of the London School of Economics student. But Jagger loved to sing, and voraciously collected and listened to American blues and pop. “Eventually, as you do, I gravitated towards a number of singers who were really quite good, like Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry,” Jagger recalled in the Stones’ 2002 book, “According to the Rolling Stones.” He remembered seeing Berry in the 1959 concert film “Jazz on a Summer’s Day.” The first album he ever bought was “Muddy Waters at Newport.” Richards recalled that Jagger had that album under his arm during the historic meet-up that led to their musical partnership, at the Dartford train station on Oct. 17, 1961. The two began listening to records together, and decided to try playing some music at the home of a mutual friend, Dick Taylor (later of Pretty Things). They started seeing bands in clubs, and first saw Jones (who then called himself “Elmo Lewis”) playing at the Ealing Jazz Club. Two more players in the pre-Stones era were Ian Stewart, a pianist with a flair for boogie-woogie, and drummer Tony Chapman. AS JONES, JAGGER AND RICHARDS got serious about music, they pooled their worldly possessions in a Chelsea apartment, affectionately remembered by Richards as “living skint and nasty in the peeling refuse bin of Edith Grove.” Two players (who were themselves destined for rock stardom) caught the early Stones at a place called the Crawdaddy Club. “We used to go and watch the Rolling Stones play near where we lived in Richmond,” Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty told me in 2003. “We saw the Stones, and then all of a sudden we heard this R&B music that we’d never really heard before. You know, we’d only heard it, really, through the Beatles or the Stones.

Bill Wyman

If only sidelong glances and smirks could talk

MICK JAGGER SHOOK HIS BUM. KEITH RICHARDS sucked on his cigarette. Bill Wyman smirked — as he traded sidelong glances with Charlie Watts. It was a smirk that seemed to say: “There they go again.” This occurred with comforting frequency during three decades of Rolling Stones concerts. In 1992, Wyman became the first original Stone to willingly walk away from the band. (This triggered verbal floggings from Jagger and Richards in the media). I spoke with the Stones’ founding bassist during telephone interviews conducted in 1999, 2001 and 2005. Q: It seemed like yours and Charlie’s lives were a bit more, shall we say, “on track” than the other guys when you two joined up.

WYMAN: Oh, totally. When I joined the band in early December 1962 — the 8th, I think it was — my son was 8 months old. I’d been married since 1959. I had responsibilities at home. I had a steady job. I couldn’t piddle about in some band that wasn’t going to make any money, really. When I joined those guys, Charlie was still at work. He was still quite smart. (Pianist) Ian Stewart was still at work. We were the three. And the other three weren’t. Brian and Keith were practically a couple of what we would term “beatniks” in those days. They didn’t do any work. They stayed in bed all day. They smelled. It was disgusting, actually. Q: Sounds precarious. Why did you, a family man, take the risk? WYMAN: You know, I really liked the music when I first played it. And they received me quite warmly — after the first evening, anyway, when Brian and Keith hardly spoke to me. But Mick did, and Ian Stewart. They made me feel at home. They liked my equipment. And then it just all fell into place after a week, and I was playin’ the way they wanted. They fired their drummer and got Charlie. That was it. As soon as Charlie came in the band, we had a solid foundation to build with. We never looked back. Q: You had an especially close relationship with Brian Jones. WYMAN: I used to hang out with Brian for most of the ’60s, you know, after Mick and Keith and (manager) Andrew Oldham kind of didn’t. It was mostly me and Brian that hung out. We shared rooms in the hotels right through the mid and late ’60s. I probably saw more of him, then, than any of the others. Q: What do you say to fans who think Brian Jones was “just” an original member, that he was a druggie, a disposable commodity? WYMAN: I want to put the record straight, because amongst many, many Stones fans, they don’t even know what Brian Jones did. They know his name and they know he’d been in the band once. As far as Brian was concerned, he was the most intelligent person that was ever in the Stones. He was the most articulate speaking. He had the most variety of musical instruments he could get something out of or perform on. He was very creative. He was a wonderful person and a real s*** at the same time.


Wyman (in wheelchair) and his fellow Stones wore drag to sell records. At least, that was their claim. © Decca Records He could switch from one to the other. So you couldn’t love him forever, but you always forgave him, because he had such a sweet nature on one side. And then he’d do the dirty on you. He’d say, “I’m sorry, man, I didn’t mean it.” You’d say, “Aw, OK, Brian, just don’t do it again.” And you’d forget all about it. Q: And, not for nothin’, the Stones was originally Brian’s band. WYMAN: Brian invented the name. It was Brian’s idea that we play that kind of music. It was all Brian! When the band started out, for the first two years, Brian was the most popular member. Brian got all the fan mail. All the girls went after Brian. They didn’t look at Mick. It’s only when you get into late ’64, ’65 — the time when we started to go to America and all that — when Mick started to become more prominent. Andrew Oldham took Brian out of the running, to be honest. Prevented him from doing interviews and that. So he killed Brian off, really, in the media. And then, of course, Mick became more and more and more prominent. Turned out to be, probably, the greatest live entertainer who’s ever been, which is fantastic. And Keith, probably one of the best rhythm guitarists who’s ever been.

Q: “Out of Our Heads” (1965) was a pivotal album, with originals that marked a maturing sound — “Satisfaction,” “Play With Fire,” “I’m Free,” “The Last Time.” What do you recall of making it? WYMAN: It was in RCA Studios, Hollywood, wasn’t it? Keith and Mick had started to write a few reasonable songs. I mean, they’d been trying to write for a few years under Andrew Oldham’s commands, I should say (laughs). They started to come up with some pretty good songs by then, so we started to do them, like “Heart of Stone” and things. We were also discovering some more soulful singers, as opposed to blues artists — Otis Redding, people like that. We did it at RCA in four-track. Of course, Brian at that time was experimenting with all kinds of instruments. I was doing a little bit as well, in that way. I tried out a six-string bass on a few numbers, I remember. But we were trying different things with all kinds of sounds. It was a lot of fun. Q: Did you do some gallivanting while in Los Angeles? This was 1965 — still very much “early days” for you boys. WYMAN: It was almost like going on holiday, you know, from England. You went out into the sunshine! There were lots of pretty girls around. There were great places to go. You’d meet people like the Everly Brothers and Phil Spector and Jack Nitzsche, those kind of people. You got to go to sessions for them — Gold Star Studios (in Los Angeles), it was called — and meet the people that were singin’ for Spector, the girls and all that. You’d go into RCA with the sun shinin’, and then come out, and the sun was still shinin’ sometimes, because it was morning (laughs). But it was really pleasurable to do it that way. When we worked in England, you know, it was always “in between.” It was usually in the afternoon that we would record, between doin’ a photo shoot in the morning and gettin’ in a van to go and do some gigs in the evening. We used to do three-hour sessions in the afternoon. And just to have, like, two or three weeks over there, just enjoyin’ it in a really nice hotel — I think it came out in the music like that. They were fun times. Q: Does your costume on the “Have You Seen Your Mother” sleeve— a military lady in a wheelchair — have a backstory? It’s like “Monty Python” before there was a “Monty Python.” WYMAN: Exactly (laughs). A few of my aunts — my dad’s sisters, actually — were members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. I used to stay with the family there, so I did see them backwards and forwards in their uniforms. I thought I’d do that (twisting) with me legs, just for a laugh.

Bill Wyman and smoke in 2000. © Roadrunner Records

The Who

From a working-class area called Shepherd’s Bush emerged a band that became one of rock’s most enduring and influential.

As musicians, each member of the Who was unique and inimitable: singer Roger Daltrey (born 1944), guitarist Pete Townshend (born 1945), bassist John Entwistle (1944-2002) and drummer Keith Moon (1946-1978), all London boys. When performing live, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon would go off on individual flights of fancy, but they were always playing the same song. In the late 1950s, Daltrey, Townshend and Entwistle were each attending Acton County Grammar School, a boys’ school. “I suppose our town was not very dissimilar to, like, the Bronx,” Daltrey said of Shepherd’s Bush when we spoke in 1998. “We were not financially wealthy, but we were incredibly rich.” Like many British musicians of his generation, Townshend came from a musical family. His dad, Clifford, recorded as “Cliff Townsend (alternate spelling intended) and His Singing Saxophone.” Daltrey formed a skiffle group, the Detours, with a guitar he made in a sheet metal factory at which he worked. “I started making my own guitar when I was 11 to 12 years old,” Daltrey said. “By the time I was 12, 13 years old, we were playing what was the equivalent of your early American folk songs, which were brought to us by a guy called Lonnie Donegan.”

BY 1962, TOWNSHEND AND ENTWISTLE WERE ALSO in the Detours. Daltrey recalled that the band was playing the Oldfield Hotel in Greenford when they were approached by Moon, who was wearing orange hair due to a peroxide mishap. (He was a huge Beach Boys fan.) Moon told Daltrey: “I hear you’re looking for a drummer, and I’m much better than the one you’ve got.” “The first time I met Keith,” Entwistle told me in 1999, “he was like a little gingerbread man. He had ginger hair on a brown suit, a brown shirt with brown shoes and one of those fake orange tans.” Moon joined the Detours in April 1964. The clownish “Moonie” completed the equation. His thrashing, unpredictable drumming was the perfect complement to Entwistle’s virtuosity, Townshend’s power chords, and Daltrey’s macho front-man style. “He did kind of blow us away,” Entwistle said. “Actually, the first gig that we did (with Moon) was someone’s wedding, believe it or not. That was the first time he blew us away. Because he actually tied his drums to this pillar on the side of the stage, so he wouldn’t fall over when he played the solo! And the drums were, like, heaving out, sort of, at about 45 degrees, held together by this big reel of rope.” MEANWHILE, TWO ASPIRING FILMMAKERS, CHRIS Stamp and Kit Lambert, were on the lookout for a band to make a film about. By then, the Detours had renamed themselves the High Numbers, and were identifying as a “mod” band. In those days, English youths often identified as being either a “mod” (fashion conscious) or a “rocker” (street tough). Stamp and Lambert caught a High Numbers show and decided to manage the group. The band underwent another name change — “the Who” beat out “the Hair,” thankfully — just as England’s music scene was blowing up in 1963. The Who stumbled onto a publicity hook in 1964, when Townshend smashed his guitar during a gig at the Railway Hotel Harrow & Wealdstone, in Harrow. (As an art student, Townshend saw a presentation by artist Gustav Metzger, founder of the “auto-destructive” art movement. Townshend interpolated Metzger’s concept into his guitar-smashing bit.) This became a calling card for the Who. Another Townshend trademark: his “windmill”-style guitar strumming technique. “We were one of a million bands,” Daltrey said. “How do we get noticed? It was just one of those lucky things that happened. A lucky break, to coin a phrase, which got us noticed.” The band’s debut single, “I Can’t Explain” (#8 in the U.K.), was helped immensely by the English TV show “Ready Steady Go!” but failed to crack the Top 40 in the United States.

The Kinks

You really got them! The Kinks, from left: Ray Davies, Dave Davies, Mick Avory and Pete Quaife.

Colorized publicity photo

Long before the Gallagher brothers of Oasis fought over their first toy, there were the Davies brothers: singer Ray and guitarist Dave. As founders of the Kinks, Ray and Dave forged one of the most tempestuous relationships in rock. The Kinks formed in 1963, in the Davies’ home turf of Muswell Hill in North London. Between 1964 and ’66, the Kinks scored eight Top 40 hits, including “You Really Got Me” (#7), “All Day and All of the Night” (#7) and “Tired of Waiting For You” (#6). The band’s sound was then raw, and the lyrics (from main songwriter Ray) were clever. Dave was an early exponent of guitar distortion. TWO EVENTS LEFT THEIR MARK ON THE EARLY Kinks. Prior to charting in 1964, the band was summoned to open for the Beatles in Bournemouth. In Ray Davies’ telling, when he shook John Lennon’s hand backstage, Lennon tersely reminded him that the Kinks were only there as a “warm-up.” This slight made the Kinks work all the harder on stage. “You Really Got Me” — which was yet to be recorded — drew a rousing response from an audience that was there to see the Beatles. The following year, the Kinks had embarked on their debut American tour. But a snowballing series of incidents — including an onstage tussle among band members, and the band threatening to cancel a show over payment — caused the Kinks to be banned from performing in America (by the powerful American Federation of Musicians) for four crucial years, through 1969.


BEST-KNOWN LINEUP: Singer Ray Davies (born 1944); guitarist Dave Davies (born 1947); bassist Pete Quaife (1943-2010); drummer Mick Avory (born 1944). All were born in London except Quaife, who was born in Devon.

Ray has intimated that retribution against the Kinks was a factor. Asked what caused the ban in a 2015 TV interview, he cryptically cited “bad management, bad luck, and bad behavior.” But the Kinks did not crawl home to die. The band eventually resumed touring and recording through distinct phases: concept albums (“Preservation Act I”); a return to roots (“Sleepwalker”); and as stadium rockers (“Low Budget”). Considering the ambitious arrangements of later Kinks material, I asked Dave Davies if he felt songs like “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night,” with their rawness and directness, are more evocative. “Actually, I think you can say a lot more through passion, sometimes, than you can through sophistication,” he allowed. “Passion can be more sophisticated than trying to explain and analyze things. That’s what communicates: a feeling. That’s kind of been my job in a way, to express ideas in feelings and emotions. That’s what rock ’n’ roll is. Listening to those early Buddy Holly and Howlin’ Wolf records, and all those influences, singing about pain and their girlfriends and all of this — but there’s something else happening. There’s this energy. This expression.”

Jeff Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck’s sister, Annetta, heard tell of a boy in the neighborhood who, like her brother, was obsessed with playing guitar. Without having met Jimmy Page, Annetta Beck decided Jeff and he should be introduced. She marched up to the Page homestead with her brother in tow, and knocked on the door. The first meeting of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, at age 13 or 14, became one of those uncanny crossroads in rock. Page recalled that Beck brought along a homemade guitar, and had been learning songs by listening to records. That day, these kindred spirits forged a friendship that would last for decades, with careers that would occasionally intertwine.

Beck demurred without giving a firm no. “And then the next thing that happened was, I’ve got a guy standing in front of me at one of our gigs,” he said. “This guy was acting on Jimmy’s recommendation. So I obviously must’ve appeared to Jim — at the time that he asked me to join the Yardbirds — like I was half-interested. Mind you, he had rejected the offer, because he wanted to stay earning money,” Beck added with a laugh. “He didn’t want to ditch everything he’d built up, to go on the road with a band that was not really widely known at that time.” Beck, as rock history tells us, indeed joined the Yardbirds in 1965. “And the rest is greased lightning,” he said. “Everything happened. They had a hit record (‘Heart Full of Soul’) just after I joined. And then the tours of America came. We did two big tours. I say ‘big’ tours; to us they were big, because we’d never been outside South London.”

OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS, BECK JOINED A series of bands and got as much stage experience as he could — not that his equipment was the greatest. “Golly, every day was a year back then, you know,” Beck told me in 2011. “I don’t recall owning an amplifier. It was always a sob story to the band. I used to plug into a tape recorder or a radio. My first amp was a 5-watt Selmer. It probably couldn’t be heard beyond the first row! SURPRISINGLY, PAGE JOINED Then I moved onto an El Pico, which was the Yardbirds as a “temporary” bassist pretty loud. The El Pico stood up to a lot the following year. Page would eventualof abuse, and I’m talking about booze, ly slide over to guitar, and the Beck-Page getting kicked, cigarette burns. I blew that lineup of the Yardbirds became famous up. Then I got a Vox Twin, which soundfor its two-pronged guitar approach. ed good, and then a Vox Super Beetle. “Well, it was unforeseen that Paul Then I moved onto Marshalls.” Samwell-Smith was going to leave; that Recalled Beck of the first time he ever was the bass player,” Beck recalled. recorded: “We were petrified. It was only “He played a huge part. I mean, he a demo, but we treated it as if we were had a really wild, big bass sound. He making the most amazing record of all used to play four-string chords on the time. We did one song; we were only bass, and just cause all kinds of earthallowed to do one song for the fee we quake sounds. Without that, the band In the bowl-cut 1960s. Opposite: wasn’t really the same band. were paying. So we did two mixes, one with echo and one without. I took the ace- Beck and Strat onstage in 1999. “And Jimmy, bless his cotton socks, Publicity photo; 1999 photo by Kathy Voglesong tate home and played it over and over.” he didn’t really play much bass. But it Beck steadily built his career, and by was my design to get him on double1965, had played on a few professionally released recordings lead. I promised, ‘If you come in this band, you’ll be on gui(including one from Screaming Lord Sutch). Meanwhile, his tar before you know it.’And poor old Chris (Dreja) was kind old buddy Page emerged as a highly sought session guitarist. of duped into playing bass. It wasn’t very good. Jimmy wasn’t settled in, because he’d only just swapped over onto IN THE MIDST OF THIS, THE YARDBIRDS WERE lead, and Chris hated playing bass, as I recall. You know, looking to hire a new guitarist following the departure of Eric you don’t just switch from rhythm guitar to bass easily.” Clapton. They invited Page to join their group, but at the Beck intimated that this situation led to his parting ways time, he was focused on becoming a record producer. with the band (though he couldn’t say if he quit or was fired). “Jimmy was a real leaning post for me, because he was “Really, there was no other solution,” Beck said. always in work, I remember,” Beck recalled. “Because Chris was one of the founding members. And I “I used to go and see Jimmy as often as I could, because I was an employee. And I remained an employee of the band had a car, at least. So I was always bugging him at his house. until I left — or was booted out. I can’t remember what hap“One day, he played me this live Yardbirds album. He pened in ’67, I think it was.” said, ‘What do you think?’ He played ‘Five Long Years,’ Next up for Beck was the Jeff Beck Group, the earliest which is a blues. One of Eric’s best solos. And I said, ‘Wow, lineup of which featured relative unknowns Rod Stewart and this guy’s great.’ Jimmy said, ‘Uh, how would you feel about Ron Wood. But Beck found a lasting niche with the instrureplacing him if he left the band?’ ‘I dunno about that.’ mental jazz-rock albums “Blow by Blow” (1975) and Because I already had a band which was doing really well in “Wired” (1976), which were recorded by — ­ to bring the the local area — Richmond and Kingston area.” whole thing full circle — Beatles producer George Martin.

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Peter Noone Something good

AT SIX OR SEVEN YEARS YOUNGER THAN MANY of his contemporaries, Peter Noone was the antithesis of the rock front man. His comically large front teeth — which Noone proudly didn’t have “fixed” — made him more teddy bear than Teddy Boy. Noone had already achieved fame as a child actor, but his first love was rock ’n’ roll. He studied (and occasionally joined) bands that played in clubs. One night, Noone filled in for the lead singer of a band called the Heartbeats. This led to a new group with a most unlikely name. I spoke with the singer in 2003 and 2011.

Q: You were a child star in England. How did your childhood pave the way for the musical career that followed? NOONE: It’s all connected. All of show business is connected. I’m lucky that I’ve done all these other things. It started out that my dad was a sort of almost-famous musician. You know, he almost was famous. He was a good trombone player. I think he wanted to make sure I was a good musician, so he sent me to a school of music. At this class at my school — St. Bede’s Jesuit College For Boys — I was better than the teacher at music. He was a really good priest, you know, because there are lots of those. He said, “You’re better at this than me. You should go to college.” Q: How old were you at the time? NOONE: I think I was 13. He signed me up for the Manchester College of Music when I was 13 instead of 18. They threw me into this class of all these geniuses who made me look like an idiot. I just didn’t know as much as they did. But because I was so afraid, I joined every class. And the only class I liked was the room where the people were playing the Chuck Berry songs. They were all 18-year-olds with beards, you know? I just watched them for a while. I got into the elocution class. My dad thought it would be important — if I ever was gonna be in show business or any business — to speak properly. Because none of us did that. We all had these terrible accents. I’ve still got mine. It was like a thrown-in class. I did it at night. It wasn’t fulltime. I still had to do my work. You go to a school of music, you’re with musicians. My life just changed. I got on all these TV shows. I got my first acting job because I could play the piano.

“Every day was a new adventure,” said Peter Noone (shown in 2005). Photo by Kathy Voglesong

‘The Beatles’ (1965-67) TRY AS YOU MIGHT, YOU CANNOT HATE THE Saturday-morning animated series titled, simply, “The Beatles.” Yeah, it’s lame. Yeah, the voices don’t sound a whit like the Beatles (with the possible exception of Ringo). Yeah, sometimes the wrong Beatle sings a given tune. But the songs are terrific. (It’s the Beatles, yo!) And though the series is an easy target for ridicule, once the cartoon Beatles plug in and play, it’s ... it’s ... charming. The series was produced by Al Brodax, the animator behind the series “Beetle Bailey” and “Barney Google and Snuffy Smith” — not exactly Disney-level stuff. Though the Beatles initially disliked the series, they later OKed Brodax to produce their 1968 movie “Yellow Submarine.” The episodes are named after song titles. The formula has John, Paul, George and Ringo thrown into various settings such as a jungle, a cruise ship, a rodeo, a movie studio, the ruins of Rome. There is always a gig to get to, and the ongoing problem of being chased by screaming girls. (Of course, this kiddie show never alludes to the fact that these

screaming girls represent the brink of sexual awakening.) Sometimes the boys land in the realm of classic literature, such as Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” or Alexandre Dumas’s “The Three Musketeers.” Sometimes they are dropped into an alternate universe, and encounter leprechauns or monsters. (The Beatles meet Dracula in an episode set at a wax museum in Piccadilly.) For fans of the great voice artist Paul Frees, “The Beatles” is a treasure trove. Still, John and George are inappropriately voiced. John has the posh “I say” accent. George sounds like an Irish farmer — nothing against Irish farmers. Ringo’s approximated Liverpudlian accent is, eh, passable. But, to give the devil his due, the likenesses are outstanding. These deceptively simple caricatures are instantly recognizable. Brodax’s team truly captured the Fab Four. Inveterate TV watcher John Lennon later called the shows “a blast.” Mused George Harrison: “They were so bad or silly that they were good, if you know what I mean.” Ya see? It couldn’t have been all that terrible.

Kiddie show shenanigans Even children’s fare was affected by the British Invasion. From far left: The Flintstones and the Rubbles donned prehistoric Beatle wigs; Jack Wild won pop-star-level fame on “H.R. Pufnstuf”; the stylish British import “Thunderbirds.” “The Flintstones” © Hanna-Barbera Productions; “H.R. Pufnstuf” © Sid & Marty Krofft Productions; “Thunderbirds” © Associated Television

“THE BEATLES” CARTOON SERIES, DOPEY AS IT was, had one profound and lasting effect on Saturday morning television. After “The Beatles,” many characters on the Saturday roster formed singing groups — electric guitars and all — and/or original pop tunes were heard during their slapstick montages. Such shows included “The Archie Show,” “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour,” “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!,” “Josie and the Pussycats,” “Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp” and “The Jackson 5ive.” (The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” was the #1 song of 1969!) Hanna-Barbera’s “The Flintstones” (1960-66) — a comedy set in the caveman days with more than a passing resemblance to “The Honeymooners” — often commented on current events. The Beatles did not escape the notice of the “modern Stone Age family.” In a 1965 episode, the “Flintstones” ensemble of Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty don Beatle wigs, gather around a microphone and, as Fred strums along on guitar, sing “Bug music.” The lyrics: “I said, Yeah, yeah, yeah! He said, Yeah, yeah, yeah! She said, Yeah, yeah, yeah!” The foursome is joined by the Gruesomes, a neighboring family of monsters, who sing the same song while likewise wearing — I hate to ruin the surprise — Beatle wigs. THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL THING ABOUT THE “supermarionation” shows created by British puppeteers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and imported to American TV (“Fireball XL5,” “Supercar,” “Stingray,” etc.) is how superbly crafted and “acted” the stories are. Before long, you get caught up in the action and drama — and forget that you’re watching puppets. During the height of the British Invasion period came the Andersons’ “Thunderbirds” (1965-66), which follows the exploits of the Tracy family. They live on a lush private island in an ultrachic abode with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a shimmering ocean vista. There’s a pool with a high diving board and an inviting patio. The spread is a marvel of modern architecture, a veritable vacation home for jet-setters. So ... what’s the catch? The Tracys can never relax. They’re a family, yes, but they’re also a highly skilled, well-funded, top-secret agency known as International Rescue. When disaster strikes anywhere in the world, this family must answer the call. The house itself transforms into their vehicle for dispatch. Chairs sink into the floor, swiftly deliv-


ering occupants into emergency vehicles. A wall poster flips around to deposit agents into a chute for rapid deployment. Beneath the home is a vast, multi-level, underground depot with monolithic emergency vehicles, including planes, rockets, and an aquacar. A rocket ship blasts off from beneath the swimming pool. The pool slides aside, chlorinated water included, to make room. The Tracys’ father, Jeff — a fit, silver-haired former astronaut — stays home and monitors the missions of his five adult sons. Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Alan each have a specialty. (I don’t want to cast aspersions on Jeff’s late wife, but his sons look like they all have different fathers.) There hangs a portrait of each son; when one of the boys reports from the field, the eyes light up on his corresponding portrait, which turns into a video screen. “Thunderbirds” is, at heart, a parody of the James Bond films, and an exceedingly clever one. Composer Barry Gray’s movieready score is worthy of 007. Even as a child, you sensed that this was not American television. That this was British to the core. Then there was Lancashire boy Jack Wild who, following his Oscar-nominated turn as the Artful Dodger in “Oliver Twist,” was exported to star in “H.R. Pufnstuf” (1969-70). With his magazineready looks, Wild emerged as not just a guy who interacts with a talking flute on Saturday mornings, but a bona fide teen idol. Wild wouldn’t be the last Brit to star on American TV during the period.

Chad and Jeremy were everywhere! From top: “Batman,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Patty Duke Show.” “Batman” © Greenway Productions; “The Dick Van Dyke Show” © Calvada Productions; “The Patty Duke Show” © United Artists Television

WHEN AMERICAN SITCOMS DID THEIR RIFFS ON the British Invasion, and the Beatles were too busy (and expensive) to take part, Chad and Jeremy happily became TV’s go-to Brits. Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde played thinly veiled versions of themselves on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Patty Duke Show” (both 1965), and played themselves outright on “Batman” (1966). Screaming girls figure in each episode, and real-life songs by Chad and Jeremy are heard — excellent product placement. On “Dick Van Dyke,” the boys play Ernie and Fred, members of a pop group called the Red Coats who are constantly on the run from female fans. When they are booked to perform on “The Alan Brady Show,” head writer Rob Petrie (Van Dyke) and his wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) are elected to host the duo in their suburban abode. Sworn to secrecy, the Petries are dying to tell neighbors about their famous visitors. (“It’s like being Clark Kent,” grouses Rob.) A clever “meta” moment comes when Ernie and Fred introduce a song “recorded by Chad and Jeremy, friends of

ours back in England. They’re very close to us, you might say.” On “Patty Duke,” they play Nigel and Patrick, a duo “discovered” by high schooler Patty Lane (Duke), who volunteers to be their manager and get them a recording contract. Patty impersonates her twin cousin Cathy (also played by Duke), who has a classical radio show, in order to play Nigel and Patrick’s demo on the air. On “Batman,” Chad and Jeremy stay at Wayne Manor, stately home of millionaire Bruce Wayne (Adam West), alias Batman. Catwoman (Julie Newmar) uses a high-tech gizmo to steal their voices, demanding that England cough up an 8-million-pound ransom. Her rationale: “Chad and Jeremy pay so much income tax to their native land, that if it were to stop, the whole empire might crumble.” Spoiler alert: C&J get their voices back. Later, while attending a Chad and Jeremy show, Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton) complains: “A bit on the groovy side, aren’t they?” Counters Bruce in a voice that sounds exactly like Batman: “Every era has its own music, Commissioner.”


’ It s Illya-mania! He didn’t sing, but David McCallum was chased by screaming girls.

“I once took refuge in a ladies’ toilet (restroom) on the campus of Louisiana State University,” the Glasgow native (born 1933) told me in 1995. “The police barred the door so that nobody would get in. And they all came in through the windows! I was trying to get out, but the police wouldn’t let me out. I got pretty badly torn about. I wasn’t like being kissed. It felt like you were being killed.” In his blond, Beatle-esque haircut and black turtleneck, McCallum often stole the show from the more conventionally heroic Robert Vaughn on TV’s “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” (196468). As quiet Russian agent Illya Kuryakin, McCallum lent the espionage thriller (some call it a spoof) a sensitivity uncommon to the era’s preferred concept of the superspy as a stop-at-nothing stud. Illya was deep, man.

AN UNWITTING TEEN IDOL, McCallum found himself on the cover of teen magazines alongside fellow Brits like the Beatles and Herman’s Hermits. I recalled an article in one such mag in which McCallum was mobbed by girls, one of whom asked his then-wife, Jill Ireland, for permission to kiss him. When she said yes, a kissing frenzy followed. “I think that’s apocryphal,” he said with a laugh. “That sounds like the MGM publicity department. As you know, every publicity department manipulates those occasions to the hilt. “Things like that did happen, yes. Absolute insanity at that time. But those scenes were manageable most of the time.” During the height of his “U.N.C.L.E.” fame, McCallum released four instrumental albums on Capitol Records such as “Music: A Part of Me,” and “Music: A Bit More of Me.” David McCallum as (Factoid: In 2009, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg rapped over a Illya Kuryakin amid sample from McCallum’s Illya collectibles. track “The Edge.”) © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

IN 1965, McCALLUM FOUND HIMSELF HOSTING “Hullaballoo” in character as Illya. He even “rapped” a song (sample lyric: “That’s why they call me Agent Double-O-Soul, baby!”) “I got to meet the Animals; they were doing ‘We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place if it’s the Last Thing We Ever Do’ (sic),” he said of the experience. “And I did, during that time, Andy Williams’ show, Dean Martin’s, Carol Channing, all those shows and specials. To meet them and to work with people like Judy Garland, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, shaking hands with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron — I’ve always been the ultimate fan of those people. I mean, the whole of my life has been such a pleasure, in terms of meeting people.” Was it weird for McCallum to see his likeness on, for instance, the Illya doll? Said the actor: “It wasn’t until we did ‘Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ in 1983 that I was on Melrose Place going past one of those bric-a-brac shops, and I saw one in the window. It said ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ all over it, and it was this sort of blond creature in a black turtleneck. I figured, ‘That’s probably me.’ I just went in and bought it. I had to, right?”


Even respectable magazines cashed in. At right, the Beatles clowned as Brit “twits” for the Saturday Evening Post.

Darlings & demons © Newsweek; © The Saturday Evening Post

“VISUALLY, THEY ARE A NIGHTMARE; TIGHT, dandified, Edwardian-Beatnik suits and great pudding bowls of hair. Musically, they are a near-disaster: guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat that does away with secondary rhythms, harmony, and melody. Their lyrics ... are a catastrophe, a preposterous farrago of Valentine-card romantic sentiments.” There are few better examples of how the establishment media initially disrespected and derided the Beatles than that introduction to the cover story in the Feb. 24, 1964, edition of Newsweek. There’s lots more. From the cover of the March 21, 1964, Saturday Evening Post: “Exclusive: Original Beatle fiction by John, the married Beatle. If you think their music bugs you, read this.” (Can you think of another instance in which cover type actually warns potential purchasers that something inside is not worth reading?) OK, so the old guard was hostile toward the Beatles. This was obvious. But media gatekeepers found that putting John, Paul, George and Ringo on their covers guaranteed a boost in circulation. And circulation is the golden calf to magazine publishers.


THIS UNPRECEDENTED SITUATION PUT MAINstream American magazines in an inconvenient position. They wanted to maintain their position of moral superiority. But more so, they wanted to sell magazines. Thus the Beatles became both the darlings and the demons of the print-media machine. The Saturday Evening Post double-dipped with two covers five months apart. (The Post’s second Beatles cover had a come-on worthy of 16 Magazine: “THE BEATLES — 8 Pages in Color.”) When the Beatles made their pilgrimage to India in search of enlightenment in 1967, Life made it a cover story. Beatle business was so good, lesser publishers began to crank out oneshots with suggestive come-ons (“A date with George, John, Paul & Ringo,” “A Message to you from the Beatles themselves,” “The girls they want,” “The love code they follow,” “What it’s like to be married to Ringo,” “The Beatles answer your most intimate questions”). These were often transparent cash-grabs filled with photos and foldouts.

This 1966 edition contained John Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” quote. © Young World Press, Inc.

Au courant RIPPLE EFFECTS FROM THE LONDON FASHION SCENE were felt far and wide. Fashion had an effect on British Invasion bands as well. Many of the musicians dated models. Can you blame them? George Harrison met wife Pattie Boyd on the “Hard Day’s Night” shoot. Paul McCartney’s girlfriend was model-actress Jane Asher. Mick Jagger’s was Marianne Faithfull, a model-turned-singer-turned-actress. Brian Jones and Keith Richards both had relationships with another model-actress, Anita Pallenberg. (It got a bit messy in the Stones camp.) Right: Faithfull in shiny black leather in Jack Cardiff’s “The Girl on a Motorcycle” (1968), also seen in censored form as “Naked Under Leather.” Below: Asher in a publicity photo from Roger Corman’s Poe adaptation “Masque of the Red Death” (1964). Bottom left: The Lady Penelope puppet wears an up-to-the-minute Mondrian print on TV’s “Thunderbirds” (1965-66). Bottom right: Pallenberg in Donald Cammell and Nicholas Roeg’s “Performance” (1970). Opposite, from top left: Twiggy on Vogue Italia (1967); Jean Shrimpton on Vogue (1965); Boyd on Petticoat (1968); and two views of Peggy Moffitt in Michelangelo Antonioni’s exploration of the dark side of the fashion world, “Blow-Up” (1966).

© British Lion Film Corp.; © American International Pictures; © Associated Television; © Warner Bros.; © Vogue; © Fleetway/ IPC; © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer



Rock and droll

Yock books chronicled cultural movement IT WAS A SYMPTOM OF THE TIMES: THE EDITORS of American humor magazines in the 1960s were usually older gents who viewed British pop bands as a flash in the pan. And yet, the Beatles were catnip to the guys at Mad, Cracked, Sick, et al. The magazines frequently riffed on two things about the band: their “long” hair and Ringo Starr’s big honker. (A recurring device had doctored photos depicting the Beatles with bald heads.) But said magazines fulfilled their important function — not to mention, enhanced their circulation — by the sheer act of chronicling the fad. After it became clear that the British bands were here to stay, social commentary crept into the humor magazines’ coverage. If nothing else, the eye-candy artwork by masters like Frank Frazetta, Mort Drucker, Jack Rickard, John Severin and Norman Mingo was well worth the cover price. The single most affecting image of a British pop star from a humor magazine remains Frazetta’s deadpan portrait of Starr for Mad #90 (1964), a parody of Breck shampoo’s then-current advertising campaign, here called “Blecch” (“Make your hair ‘Blecch’! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”). Frazetta — renowned for his painted illustrations in the fantasy and sci-fi genres — made the first of a handful of contributions to Mad with this illustration. A bottomless pit of talent, Frazetta reconciled the grotesque and the beautiful in an unblinking portrait that neither flatters nor ridicules its subject. Though Frazetta lightens Starr’s hair (in reflecting Breck’s ad campaign, which favored blondes), there’s really no gag here. The “Blecch” Ringo caught the eye of United Artists, who hired Frazetta to illustrate his first-ever movie poster, for “What’s New, Pussycat?” (1965) starring Peter Sellers.

Frank Frazetta’s deadpan portrait of Ringo Starr for Mad #90 (1964) remains the single most affecting image of a British pop star in a humor magazine. © Warner Bros.


The gig represented a turning point in the artist’s career. Frazetta went on to illustrate posters for “Mad Max” and “The Gauntlet”; album covers for Herman’s Hermits, Nazareth and Molly Hatchet; and paperback covers for Ace/Lancer’s Conan series. But the “Blecch” Ringo remains a rare instance of a Frazetta illustration adorning the bedrooms of ... adolescent girls.

MAD OPTED NOT TO PARODY THE BEATLES’ FILM debut, “A Hard Day’s Night,” upon its release in 1964. Then again, who ever thought a Beatles movie would be a hit? The oversight was corrected in Mad #93 (1965). The five-pager “The Flying Ace” — written by Dick DeBartolo and illustrated by Drucker — was a parody of World War II epics “starring” John, Paul, George and Ringo, “co-starring” Natalie Wood, with “cameos” by Ed Sullivan, Barry Goldwater and Jimmy Stewart. Later that year, the second annual Mad Follies featured Frazetta’s calendar illustration of dozens of celebs (Barbra Streisand, Nikita Krushchev, Woody Allen, Fidel Castro), in which the Beatles surround an annoyed Elvis Presley. Drucker and Frazetta nailed the Beatles, but not every artist could be bothered — again, likely owing to the old guard’s expectation that the boys’ popularity would expire. The cover of the June 1964 issue of Sick featured a Jack Davis illustration of a Beatle-esque quartet, but not recognizably “the” Beatles. In the same issue, Angelo Torres’ illustrations of the Beatles have the same problem: Except for Starr, the “Beatles” don’t look like the Beatles. (Given Davis’ and Torres’ well-earned reputations as caricaturists par excellence, this just seems wrong.) As for those bald jokes: The Beatles were hairless in Al Jaffee’s foldout for Mad #88 (“Premature loss of the Beatles’ hair ends this wild madness”) in 1964. The boys are likewise shorn inside the June 1964 Sick (“Unwanted hair painlessly removed”), and on the Jan. 1965 Help! cover. It might have been funny, were it not so (yawn) predictable.

After skipping “A Hard Day’s Night,” Mad assigned caricaturist Mort Drucker to a parody of old-timey war movies “starring” the Fab Four and Natalie Wood, in Mad #93 (1965). © Warner Bros.

The claim “Paul Writes Our Beatle Movie Spoof!” on the cover of Sick #33 (Dec. 1964) was not spurious; it was penned by gagman Paul Laiken. Help! featured bald Beatles on its Jan. 1965 cover. Sick © Headline Publications, Inc.; Help! © General Promotions Co. The Beatle Buggy from Super Cracked Annual #1 (1968). The artist is unidentified; perhaps a John Severin quickie? © Major Magazines


Sick over singers

Below: Honestly, do they look like the Beatles to you? From the cover of Sick (June 1964). Art: Jack Davis. Right: Yet another “bald Beatles” gag from the same edition. Below right: An outraged reader responds to same, in Sick #33 (Dec. 1964). Bottom: In 1964, Louis Armstrong knocked the Beatles out of the #1 chart spot with “Hello Dolly,” hence this topical gag from Sick #33. (In real life, George Harrison seems an unlikely person to disrespect ol’ Satchmo.) © Headline Publications


Toon time

Engaging caricatures of, from top left, the Dave Clark Five; Maureen Starkey (wife of Ringo); the Stones; the Hermits (with the Beach Boys); and the Animals are believed to be from 1966-68 issues of Teen World and Movie Teen Illustrated, artist unknown. © Teen World; © Camera Workshop Publications, Inc.


New kind of comic hero LIVERPUDLIANS. ROCK ’N’ ROLLERS. COMIC-BOOK HEROES. It’s little wonder that the creators of comics used the Beatles as characters in their work. After all, these four living, breathing human beings were always perceived as “characters” anyway. “A Hard Day’s Night” is sometimes like a live-action cartoon. Readers in the 1960s saw the Fab Four enter the four-color realm and rub elbows with comic-book characters — typically lovestruck teenage girls and costumed heroes. One of the Beatles’ earliest appearances in the comics happened in Betty and Veronica #104 (1964). In an essay titled “Here Come the Beatles,” an uncredited writer notes of the Fab Four: “As a group they are very talented, haven’t changed with their terrific popularity and acclaim, have an impish philosophy and are very articulate.” The boys are shown in an illustration that looks to be good light-table work, based on a 1963 publicity photo. (John Rosenberger has been suggested as the likely illustrator.) Before long, the Beatles became part of the illustrated stories — “cast members,” if you like. But, as was the case with humor magazines, care was not always taken by comic-book artists to get the Beatles’ likenesses strictly correct. (At the time, these artists were usually World War II veterans who viewed the Beatles as a passing fad.) A happy exception was Dell’s The Beatles (1964), an “official” comic book depicting the Beatles’ rise. Dell — and Beatles fans — hit the jackpot with artist Joe Sinnott.

Top and right: Archie’s early foray into Beatle territory, from Betty and Veronica #104 (1964). Opposite: Girls’ Romance #109 (1965). © Archie Comics; © DC Comics, Inc. 121

It’s official! Sanctioned comics What really sets Dell Publishing’s “official” 35-cent giant comic book The Beatles apart is the fact that its artist made the effort to capture the likenesses of John, Paul, George and Ringo. That artist was Joe Sinnott (1926-2020), a prolific inker for Marvel Comics who delineated more than 200 issues of Fantastic Four, chiefly pencilled by Jack Kirby and John Buscema. Sinnott explained that his penchant for likenesses is what landed him the Beatles gig. “I secured an account over at Dell and also at Treasure Chest,” Sinnott told me in 2004. “I was fairly fortunate to be able to capture likenesses, so the companies used to give me a lot of biographical stories, which I certainly enjoyed. I did the lives of (Douglas) MacArthur and (Dwight) Eisenhower and John Kennedy and Babe Ruth and the popes and J. Edgar Hoover. “Dell liked the way I did likenesses. So for Dell, I did the life of the Beatles. That was a 64-page book, a lot of work,” added Sinnott (who drafted Dick Giordano to do some pages). Capturing the look of the Beatles took some hustle on Sinnott’s part, the artist recalled. “As far as references, I was given nothing,” he said. “I relied on photos in magazines.” It was a point of pride for Sinnott to draw the Beatles’ locations, and their gear, correctly. “I felt it was important to get the instruments right,” he said. “I didn’t want to just fake it.”


Ah, romance

CHARLTON SHAMELESSLY PLAYED the Beatles card in its romance titles. In stories like “The Beatles Were My Downfall” (from Summer Love #46, 1965) and “The Beatles Saved My Romance” (from Summer Love #47, 1966), the heroines learn not to put their unattainable idols ahead of the actual flesh-and-blood fellows who are right in front of them. Ain’t that sweet? Publishers of romance comics sometimes shoe-horned the Fab Four onto its covers. The poster for a Beatles “record hop” on the cover of Charlton’s Teen Confessions #31 (1964) appears to be an afterthought. The cover of DC Comics’ Heart Throbs #101 (1966) depicts a young lady tearfully discovering that her boyfriend is cheating on her ... while attending a Beatles movie. In the Archie Comics line, Betty and Veronica went gaga over the Fab Four. On the cover of Laugh #166 (1965), they swoon over the group. In Betty and Veronica #105 (1965), they attend a Beatle wig sale. Meanwhile, in another Archie Comics title, Josie #28 (1965), Josie’s well-decorated bedroom is a tribute to Herman’s Hermits. EVEN ODDER THAN THE ROMANCE comic book appearances were the Beatles’ crossovers and tie-ins with superheroes. In DC Comics’ Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #79 (1964), Jimmy is hijacked to the distant past, where he manufactures and sells Beatle wigs to peasants. When Superman sees Jimmy in his red wig playing a ram’s horn and drum, he exclaims, “You’ve really started a ‘Beatle’ fad here, Jimmy! You seem to be as popular as Ringo, the Beatle drummer!” (You could always count on editor Mort Weisinger to spell it out for you.) Jimmy’s second Beatles-related — or, at least, Beatles-adjacent — adventure happened in Jimmy Olsen #88 (1965). Despite the promise of a Beatles connection on the cover, there are no Beatles — just Rick Rock and His Rolling Romeos, which Olsen challenges with his own combo, Jimmy Olsen and His Carrot-Top CutUps. Jimmy arranges a front-page story about his group in The Daily Planet. So journalistic ethics did not exist in 1960s Metropolis. In Metal Men #12 (1965), the Beatles’ dialect sounds more Knightsbridge than Liverpool. I say! In Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales #130 (1965), the Human Torch and the Thing pursue a trio of thieves who abscond to Coney Island with the band’s payroll — wearing Beatle wigs.

Charlton Comics Beatles tie-ins, from top: Summer Love #46 (1965), Teen Confessions #31 (1964) and Summer Love #47 (1966). © Charlton Comics Group

Beatles in the DCU

Above: The most famous band in the world meets the least famous superteam in the world, in Metal Men #12 (1965). This really is an alternate universe, in which the Beatles, in their first flush of world fame, beg the Metal Men — who were not exactly the Justice League of America — for their autographs. (Tina, then the Metal Men’s sole female member, asks the all-important question: “Is your hair real?”) Story by Robert Kanigher; art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Opposite and right: In Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #79 (1964), the first panel of “The Red-Headed Beatle of 1000 B.C.!” encapsulates the head-scratching weirdness of the Jimmy Olsen comic book series. Jimmy wears a red Beatle wig and dances as he watches the Beatles on TV, exclaiming, “I always seem to enjoy their music more when I wear my personal Beatle wig!” Story by Leo Dorfman; cover by Curt Swan and George Klein; interior art by George Papp. © DC Comics Inc.

Sinister swinger

Left: That brazen British baddie, the Mad Mod, ensnares Kid Flash in a panel from Teen Titans #7 (1967). In “The Mad Mod, Merchant of Menace,” the Titans are enlisted to accompany Wonder Girl’s favorite English pop star, Holly Hip, and break up a smuggling operation spearheaded by the Mad Mod, a haberdasher for London’s swinging set who says things like “Jolly good show!” and “Cheerio!” Story by Bob Haney, art by Nick Cardy. The Mad Mod returned in Teen Titans #17 (1968), taunting the Titans, “Aye, me duckies, it’s your old friend!” Haney and Cardy were reteamed. © DC Comics Inc.


From screen to page

Above: The TV sitcom “My Little Margie” (1952-55) was long off the air by 1964, but Charlton Comics continued publishing a comic book based on the series, thus Margie’s Beatle moment. Right: Another officially sanctioned Beatles comic book was Dell’s “Yellow Submarine” movie adaptation of 1968. Below: The “Sgt. Pepper”-era Beatles meet Forbush-Man in Marvel Comics’ superhero parody comic book Not Brand Ecch #8 (1968), in artwork by Tom Sutton. © Charlton Comics Group; © King Features-Subafilms, LTD.; © Marvel Comics

The Gears are ... gear!

Cooler than the Beatles? Kookier than the Kinks? That’s what the cover type of Millie the Model #135 (1966) promised regarding the Gears, Marvel’s fictional quartet based on real-life British Invasion bands. Writer Roy Thomas (creator of the Gears with artist Stan Goldberg) said he didn’t recall discussing the Gears with Marvel Comics editor Stan Lee “in any way, shape, or form,” when we corresponded in 2021. “It was an idea I brought up to Stan Goldberg, who was the penciler and had been, I suspect, basically doing the plotting on the Millie comics for some time,” he said. “Stan G. liked the idea, so we went ahead with it. In later contacts with him, he often brought up (the Gears) as one of the things he most liked doing in Millie.” As for the band’s moniker: “The name ‘Gears’ came from ‘Hard Day’s Night’ — some producer saying a line like, ‘Gear, fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles.’ ”

The Gears debut in Millie the Model #135 (1966), top left, and return in Millie #141 (1967), top right and panel left. Art: Stan Goldberg. Opposite: More Gears in Modeling With Millie #54 (1967). Art: Ogden Whitney and John Romita. © Marvel Comics 135


Ben Cooper costumes. Opposite: Soaky bubble bath toys.

© Ben Cooper; Lennon mask courtesy of Heritage Auctions; Soaky toys © Colgate

Take a bath with Paul and Ringo When Ben Cooper — purveyors of chintzy (but enchanting) Halloween costumes — did the Beatles, they did ’em right. The boys were represented in good likenesses on BC’s crackly, rigid, nostril-blocking, sweat-trapping masks. (The “costumes,” glorified aprons in “rayon taffeta,” had the same striped vest for all four.) But Colgate only rolled the dice on two Beatles in its Soaky line of bubble-bath toys. (Soakys were plastic figures filled with bubble-bath solution; the heads popped off to reveal a twist cap.) The two Beatles released by Colgate will hardly be a surprise: the Cute One, and the One With the Big Nose.

(Pity those who wanted to take a bath with John or George.) Another non-surprise: British Invasion-inspired collectibles overwhelmingly favored the Fab Four. But not all. There were fan club buttons for the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, etc. Remco put out Dave Clark Five figures; Hasbro released a Peter Noone doll; and Play Pal released Rolling Stones dolls of ... we can’t say for sure. Meanwhile, England was much more democratic than we Yanks when it came to rock collectibles. Selcol’s Stones-themed musical toys are like something from an alternate universe.


Game on!

The title of Milton Bradley’s “Flip Your Wig Game” focused on Beatle haircuts. But a photo of the boys before they perfected the hairstyle was used as the board’s main image. Like the band itself, MB’s game works best with four players. Participants play as John, Paul, George or Ringo, collecting cards with autographs, instruments and a “hit record” of whichever Beatle you represent. (Stratego, this ain’t.) Opposite: Band-emblazoned buttons. Game © NEMS Enterprises Ltd. and © Milton Bradley; buttons © current copyright holders


Remco’s darling, wiryhaired Beatle dolls from 1964 were hot sellers, but their likenesses ran hot and cold. John and Ringo were spot-on. But George had Prince Charles teeth, and Paul resembled a Zanti Misfit. © SELTAEB Inc.; © Remco

You name it

Brian Epstein was said to have been, shall we say, overly liberal in approving licensing deals on behalf of his young charges. In America, where the dollar is king, manufacturers seemed willing to plaster the Beatles’ names and faces on just about anything. From top left: Merit’s Beatles magnetic toy; packaging for the “only” Authentic Beatle Wig from Lowell; Bronson’s Beatles Shampoo (“for all the family”); a Beatles Jigsaw Puzzle; Bronson’s Beatles Hair Spray (“brushes out instantly”); and packaging for (probably unlicensed) Beatle Combs. Also for sale were Beatles stockings, pens, lariat ties, tie pins and (note careful spelling) “Beetle” boots. © NEMS Enterprises Ltd.; © SELTAEB Inc.; © J & L Randall Ltd.; © Lowell Toy Mfg. Corp.; © Bronson Products Co.

Selcol of Braintree, Essex, in England made rock-themed toys (not to mention garden ornaments). From left: Rolling Stones Big 6 Guitar; Beatles Big 5 Guitar logo; Rolling Stones Party Pack box art with harmonica; Ringo Starr drum. © Selcol Products Limited; courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Frozen four

Is it still a collectible if you can eat it? Beatle Bars (left and below left) were “delicious ice cream bars covered with chocolate crunch.” The frozen treats were marketed in 1965 by Hood, an imprint of the Country Club Ice Cream Co. in Paterson, NJ. On the side of the box was an offer for a “lucky Beatle coin” redeemable from Alking Enterprises in Los Angeles. The coins — embossed with the boys’ faces, of course — could be obtained by mailing in one wrapper (or a facsimile) plus 50 cents. Bottom left: A Beatles Candy box promised a free hand puppet inside. (These were simply color printing on clear plastic.) Below: The Ringo Starr hand puppet. Yeah ... Yeah ... Yeah ...

Kit krazy Hawk Model Co., home of the Weird-Oh models, put out Brit-inspired kits with its “Frantics” line. Left: “Steel Pluckers” and “Totally Fab” box art by Weird-Oh creator Bill Campbell (1965). Right: Painted-and-glued Pluckers. Opposite: Revell’s nicely done Beatles box artwork signed by Putt (1964). © Hawk Model Co.; © SELTAEB; © Revell



Remember when long-haired British rock ’n’ rollers made teenage girls swoon — and their parents go crazy? Britmania plunges into the period when suddenly, America went wild for All Things British. This profusely illustrated full-color hardback, subtitled “The British Invasion of the Sixties in Pop Culture,” explores the movies (A Hard Day’s Night, Having a Wild Weekend), TV (The Ed Sullivan Show, Magical Mystery Tour), collectibles (toys, games, trading cards, lunch boxes), comics (real-life Brits in the DC and Marvel Universes) and, of course, the music! Written and designed by MARK VOGER (Monster Mash, Groovy, Holly Jolly), BRITMANIA features interviews with members of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, the Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, the Yardbirds, the Animals, the Hollies and more. It’s a gas, gas, gas! By BACK ISSUE and RETROFAN editor MICHAEL EURY. (192-page FULL-COLOR HARDCOVER) $43.95 • (Digital Edition) $15.99 • ISBN: 9781605491158

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